JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Several James Island parents are concerned with a decision to remove a school bus stop from their neighborhood.
Emily Brennan lives on Harbortowne Road. The bus stop is a little more than a mile away from Stiles Point Elementary School where her two children go to school.
Normally, Brennan’s children would simply hop on the bus with about 13 other children in the neighborhood. This is year, the bus stop has been removed.
“I just got a message back from the new director of transportation and he basically just said they determined the walk zone on a school by school basis,” Brennan said. "They determined that our neighborhood is a walk zone.
State busing regulations do not require the state to provide transportation, or funding for transportation, to students who live within one and a half miles of the school. However, exceptions can be made for routes deemed dangerous.
Brennan says the neighborhood petitioned for the stop three years ago.
Another parent in the neighborhood, LynnAnne Gillen, has three children who regularly took the bus last year.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Well maybe they forgot about it.' We will just have to ask,” Gillen said. “In the past when parents petitioned for the bus stop the school district was very responsive, so we are hoping they are going to be responsive again.”
They are petitioning for the bus stop to be reinstated, arguing the route to school is too dangerous to walk.
“My biggest concern is that it is a very busy path for a lot of the way. There are not sidewalks for a lot of the way. There is a lot of rush hour traffic. It is a cut through for the high school,” Brennan said. “It’s so busy that last year they actually put in speed bumps for some of the portion, and so that kind of surprised me that they want my young children, six and seven years old, to walk to school.”
Charleston County School District spokesperson Andy Pruitt said the district is required to meet state regulations.
“The district’s Office of Student Transportation is responsible for the creation of bus stops and routes, unlike in years past," Pruitt said. “Our staff has worked to make sure our bus stops are meeting state regulations, including eliminating stops that are within 1.5 miles of a student’s school. The district can incur extra costs for “hazard” stops (stops that do not meet state requirements).”
It is unclear how many other bus stops were eliminated.
The district hired a new school bus provider, First Student at the beginning of the year. You can find the listed bus stops for each school here.